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Extended Audio Sample Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Audiobook, by John J. Ratey Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,634 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John J. Ratey Narrator: Walter Dixon Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2008 ISBN: 9781596592698
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A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain, from the bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD.



Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.


In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run---or, for that matter, simply the way you think Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “At last a book that explains to me why I feel so much better if I run in the morning! This very readable book describes the science behind the mind-body connection and adds to the evidence that exercise is the best way to stay healthy, alert, and happy!”

    Dr. Susan Love, New York Times bestselling author

  • “This book is a real turning point that explains something I’ve been trying to figure out for years. Having experienced symptoms of both ADHD and mild depression, I have personally witnessed the powerful effects of exercise, and I’ve suspected that the health benefits go way beyond just fitness. Exercise is not simply necessary, as Dr. Ratey clearly shows, it’s medicine.”

    Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France

  • “Bravo! This is an extremely important book. What Cooper did decades ago for exercise and the heart, Ratey does in Spark for exercise and the brain. Everyone—teachers, doctors, managers, policy-makers, individuals trying to lead the best kind of life—can benefit enormously from the utterly convincing and brilliantly documented thesis of this ground-breaking work. People know that exercise helps just about everything, except anorexia, but it will surprise most people just how dramatically it improves all areas of mental functioning. So, get moving! Your brain will thank you and repay you many times over.”

    Edward Hallowell, MD

  • Spark is just what we need—a thoughtful, interesting, scientific treatise on the powerful and positive impact of exercise on the brain. In mental health, exercise is a growth stock and Ratey is our best broker.”

    Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 2/20/2014

    " Actually, I read some, skimmed some, but found the arguments valuable, and think we all ought to get out and do more, for our brain's benefit (I can say that after a two mile walk today--my first in a few weeks--I'm pretty inconsistent). If we're not exercise fans, there are reasons for that, and the author presents to good reasons to reconsider our position. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 2/19/2014

    " I'm not sure I buy everything in this book, but it did help me think about working exercise into my day a little more often. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 2/18/2014

    " This book is a review of much of the research that has been published in the past decade or so, on the subject of exercise's effects on the brain. It is an absolutely first-rate book. I have read a lot about how exercise improves one's mood. But I had not realized the many other benefits to one's brain, intelligence, memory, problem solving, that are induced by exercise. The very first chapter describes how a strong school exercise program has benefited an entire school district. Exercise can actually induce physical enhancements to the brain, for example, increase the volume of the hypothalamus by up to 30%. This book is quite amazing--highly recommended! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valentina Tkachenko | 2/18/2014

    " Awesome book, very inspirational. Highly recommended. Plenty of research to back up the conclusions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Justin | 2/11/2014

    " Loved this book! Helped me give presentations on stress and how it reacts/creates "stuff" in our bodies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 1/30/2014

    " This book is life-changing! A lot of neuroscience but he explains it well. Made me feel like I was back in college in all those great classes about how the human brain works. I would very highly recommend reading this to learn about real evidence that links exercise with neurochemical changes. It inspired me to get to the gym! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mahala Helf | 1/28/2014

    " Brilliantly translates cutting edge neuro research into practical advice. Explains how and why structured exercise like martial arts,yoga, and gymnastics as well as less traditional sports like mountain biking, whitewater paddling,and skateboarding, by challenging the brain as well as the body, have specific beneficial effects on attention, executive function, memory and mood in typical and nontypical humans of all ages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Circello | 1/24/2014

    " This was a really interesting book and a great book to read while I was working out at the gym. I started reading it to learn about how to help Jack focus better at school. But, there was also a chapter on anxiety that had some interesting points that will keep me motivated to go to the gym! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 12/14/2013

    " Written by an M.D. so it was a little tough to get through at times. Very interesting topic though -- in short, exercise helps with learning, ADD, depression, anxiety, hormonal stuff, etc... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 carlos benjamin | 9/4/2013

    " Excellent book correlating exercise with improved brain function. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Victor Holguin | 6/12/2013

    " This read definitely makes me want to add more exercise into my daily routine and not just for my body but now for my mind. Very informative. A bit repetitive but it certainly drilled in me the message. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 5/3/2013

    " This might really get me moving. Connects brain function to body motion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick | 4/6/2013

    " Excellent book on how exercise affects your mental ability. Toward the end I started feeling like the author thinks that exercise is effective for almost any condition, but maybe he is right? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rhonda | 3/26/2013

    " Fine read. More reasons to make exercise an important part of my life, along with my family. The references to a revised PE class, focusing more on personal health than the dimensions of a volleyball court, were fabulous! I shared quite a few excerpts with my family. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 8/11/2012

    " Lots of technical information. It focused too much on mental disorders and exercise and did not go into enough detail about how much exercise is recommended for the average person. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joshua | 6/1/2012

    " In short: run. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Jo | 3/12/2012

    " Quite motivating to get up and move! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maeve | 11/2/2011

    " This is brilliant. Please read it. If you aren't an exerciser this will convince you that it benefits your Brain not just your Body. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MJ Gommel | 7/20/2011

    " I struggled between a 3 and 4 for this one. The author presented great information and I learned a lot, but he goes on way too long with many of the topics in the book. The editing process for this book could have been much better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Francine | 6/8/2011

    " This was easy reading but nothing especially new. The act of physical exercise and the brain are very connected and we've seen lots of material on the subject in the last couple of years. Still, I enjoyed it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sumit | 5/24/2011

    " I've read many books about exercise and its impact on health, even on mood, but this is the first comprehensive collection of studies on the myriad ways in which exercise can improve your brain, improve focus, and perhaps most importantly maintain brain health and growth as you age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rod | 5/23/2011

    " Immensely persuasive. A little heavy on neurological chemistry that is going to be lost on many people, but a really great book and motivational tool. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 5/11/2011

    " Awesome book about the relationship of exercise and brain function. Addresses addiction, old age, etc. and shows the importance of exercise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 diana | 4/25/2011

    " Explanation on how physical activity affects brain activity and student academics "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsay | 3/29/2011

    " Really interesting at first, but then it became redundant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Profkhalid | 3/29/2011

    " Spark totally changed my view of exercise! If you're one of those sluggish people, you should read this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 3/16/2011

    " This book really opened up my eyes to WHY exercise is good for me and my brain. I highly recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 3/13/2011

    " Really really interesting. Even if only 1/4 of the information is accurate it is eye opening. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanna | 3/1/2011

    " This explains so much, and is a must read for anyone interested in the relationship of eating and health! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristen | 2/9/2011

    " I thought this was great scientific insight into the effect exercise has on the brain and on certain diseases. I know I've noticed in my own life that when I'm incorporating it well that I perform better both mentally and emotionally. This book backs that up. "

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About the Author
Author John J. Ratey

Dr. John Ratey is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of numerous bestselling and groundbreaking books, including Driven to Distraction and A User’s Guide to the Brain. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has a private practice.

About the Narrator

Walter Dixon is a broadcast media veteran of more than twenty years’ experience with a background in theater and performing arts and voice work for commercials. After a career in public radio, he is now a full-time narrator with more than fifty audiobooks recorded in genres ranging from religion and politics to children’s stories.